Leading modules


Module 5 “Can I solve problems?” – Creative problem solving

Unit 4 – How to develop problem-solving skills?
How to become proactive?

Proactive problem solving is all about identifying problems and resolving them before the impacts are felt. What is the impact of an event that never occurs? There isn’t one. While not all problems can be avoided entirely, there are often early warning signs that indicate that a problem is developing.

Being proactive means anticipating problems, seeking new solutions and preparing the future. Being reactive, on the contrary, means solving problems when they turn up, waiting for the future to happen before taking action.

But how can you learn to become a proactive problem solver?

First, you should take responsibility for the problem and say to yourself that it’s up to you to solve it. Problems seldom disappear by themselves and there is nobody who will solve the problem for you. Secondly, you should know what you can and what you cannot change and then concentrate on your response to a problem rather than accepting it as a given situation. You may not be able to change a problem situation, but you can change the outcome. Thirdly, organise your daily work in a way that it lets you time to be proactive. When having an important workload, we spend most of our time in responding to what needs to be done, which is more reactive than proactive. Unfortunately, it is a reality that to be proactive you need time and the possibility to take a step away from daily tasks.

Here are 3 typical elements of proactive problem-solving:

  • Taking initiatives
  • Early problem detection
  • Be prepared for problems

Taking initiatives

Having initiative is central to becoming a successful entrepreneur. Not only is it important in terms of customer acquisition, it helps when you have to solve a problem. Proactive entrepreneurs are always looking for new ways to do things, to communicate with their staff and to improve their product or service, inadvertently reducing the risk of having problems in the future.

The initiative of an entrepreneur is developed over time and it shows that you are passionate about your product and determined to succeed; qualities that investors love to see. Any good problem-solver knows how to research, find similarities between themselves and others and use their initiative to seek out good solutions to problems and part of being a good problem-solver is your ability to keep going regardless of how many times you fail.

Early problem detection

As a proactive problem solver, you look for a problem before it finds you. Putting isolated facts together and recognizing patterns that may indicate the existence of a problem is at the heart of proactive problem solving. It is not only about identifying threats, but also about identifying opportunities to prevent future problems. Early problem detection demands a constant monitoring and analytical skills. However, it is also a question of being attentive about simple incidents and their underlying problems. Intuition should not be ignored when a situation seems strange, a context unclear.

Be prepared for problems

Proactive problem-solving is not always possible, because problems can turn up totally unexpected. Being prepared for all possible scenarios makes part of risk management skills and proactive problem-solving. For a young entrepreneur, it means to be flexible and persistent at the same time. Flexibility or adaptability is the ability to be open-minded and open to new opportunities and change. By being flexible, you will be able to apply different solutions to solve an issue. A flexible person is also open to receiving suggestions from other people who may be experts in solving similar problems. At the same time, you should be persistent and determined to not change your initial project when facing unexpected problems or circumstances. Persistence is an important problem-solving skill that is often misunderstood by a lot of people. Being persistent does not necessarily mean doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. It means to find new solutions for problems that can come up without getting dissuaded from your business or project idea.